Thanksgiving

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#Forgiveness#LessonsforReal

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

This past Sunday I preached about the necessity of the cross. I once again went to an unlikely Scripture for better understanding: Psalm 130.  Thanks to the late Dr. James Boice (see the end of this post for an interesting fun fact), I was able to make some excellent remarks about God’s forgiveness. I share those with you here:

#1- God’s forgiveness is inclusive. Verse 4 does not say, “There is forgiveness for this sin but not that sin.” It would be even worse if it said, “There is forgiveness for this sin” but then not include the one you or I are guilty of. God’s forgiveness sets no limits. The only sin not forgiven is the rejection of Christ.

#2- God’s forgiveness is for now.  The translators do it right here (v.4) by using the word “is.”  The original Hebrew is even stronger because it says, “With you forgiveness.” You or I don’t have to wonder about our future of standing before God or standing in trembling uncertainty. There is forgiveness for you, this moment, right now.

#3- God’s forgiveness is for those who want it. In verses 1-2 the psalmist says, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” Forgiveness is there but you must ask for it. One thing I have noticed over the years is God will never force Himself on anyone. You must ask. You must want Him. Notice the psalmist is confessing his sin in verse 1. Pleading for mercy in verse 2. And then believing and trusting God for that mercy in verse 4. 

#4- God’s forgiveness leads to godly living. Some people object to grace being a motivating factor because they say it leads to sin. You know that argument right? “Bill, if you teach about grace it will just give people a license to sin.” I see it as the opposite. The forgiveness we are talking about does not lead to license but to reverence for God. Notice the words at the end of verse 4: “to be feared.” That is reverence. A life truly changed by the power of the Gospel and the power of God’s forgiveness will not fall into a pattern of sin and disregard for God’s Word. The true effects of forgiveness are love and worship and service not license to sin.

So there you have it. Four lessons to learn and apply about forgiveness. I hope this helps you understand forgiveness a little more.

And now for the fun fact: Dr. Boice’s father was an M.D. who practiced in Duquesne, PA. and McKeesport Hospital. He was my family doctor. Today he would be called a Pediatrician. That was l-o-o-o-o-n-g before specialized medicine. 🙂 And there you have an interesting fun fact.

#Ingratitude#Guilty?

Friday, November 20th, 2020

I read something recently I thought was good. One man wrote:

Wearing shoes is optional. But eating is not. Driving a car is optional. But once you choose the option, driving on the right hand side (in America) is not…I’m not saying these things are impossible. You can choose to go without eating, but if you do you must take the consequences. You must be willing to exist at a low energy level, to invite infection and disease, and, if you persist, to die. You can choose to drive on the left but will pay fines and cause accidents.

In our life as a Christ-follower, we have an option of being good stewards with God’s blessings, or using His gifts for purely selfish means.  It is sad that because Thanksgiving Day is approaching that we find ourselves focusing on gratitude and God’s blessings when, if fact, that gratitude and those blessings are all-year around.

I’m going to make a very blanket statement which I firmly and 100% believe: we who follow Jesus ought to be THE MOST GRATEFUL people of all. Bar none. This Sunday I am going to recap some thoughts about God’s blessings I spoke about last week, but then I aim to draw attention to some examples in the Bible of people who were ungrateful.  What strikes me even more are the words Moses spoke in Deuteronomy 6 where he reminded the people what they had to be grateful for but added these words: then take care lest you forget them. Do you think God had an idea about His people? About me? About you?

This is the last in my series called Q & A and it has a simple title: What about Ingratitude?  Obviously I appreciate your prayers, but let me challenge you to take one step more: spend some time in gratitude for all God has done and given you.

#Blessed#CountThem

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Many of us can remember the old song “Count your many blessings name them one by one/Count your many blessings see what God has done.” It was especially pulled out of mothballs every Thanksgiving. And rightly so. But then again, it is sad. Why focus on blessings and saying thanks for them only when the holiday comes around?

British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once said, “Memory is very treacherous, by a strange perversity-it treasures up the refuse of the past and permits priceless treasures to lie neglected.” I’m afraid that is true for many of us. We get so caught up in the bad of the past that we often forget the good that has happened.

Psalm 103 reminds us to “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His hold name…Forget not all His benefits.” Here are four thoughts about God’s blessings that we should be aware of and I will be highlighting this week:

  1. God’s blessings are numerous and varied.
  2. God’s blessings are beyond what we deserve.  {Ain’t that the truth!}
  3. God’s blessings are poured out on the just and the unjust.
  4. God’s blessings have a purpose.

This Sunday I am going to begin a two-part sermon series on thanksgiving as part of my Q & A series. It is titled What about Being Blessed?  If you happen to live near us and attend or plan to, we will not be meeting in person this week. Strictly online.  You can find the links on our church’s website.  Our live stream will begin at 10:45 and will be scaled down to an opening song (prerecorded), a communion thought and the sermon. There will only be 3 of us in the building-me, Jo and Ryan.

Your prayers would be most appreciated.

#Miraculous#PrayerAnswered#Astounded

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

I don’t normally “cross dress” my two blogs. As many of you know, I have this one (Cycleguy’s Spin) and another one-a devotional blog called “Living in the Shadow.” I decided to bring “Shadow” to this one today. Not many read “Shadow,” but I believe someone who reads this one may need to hear this today. So I share it with you here.

There has been and always will be a battle between seeing and believing the miraculous and being so jaded that even the miraculous is seen as mundane. Skepticism seems to rule so many peoples’ thinking.  Over the past 45+ years as a pastor I have had the blessing of seeing the miraculous. I’ve seen God work in ways that astound. I know some question the use of the word “miracle” and want to confine it to the NT days, but I’m going to use it to describe some recent events I have been privileged to witness:

  • A 13 y/o healthy young man finds himself suddenly fighting for his life. In just a matter of  days, he goes from healthy to life support. Prayers bombard heaven endlessly. “Miraculously” he goes from death’s door to home in a matter of weeks. He still has a haul but there is much to marvel at. Aslan was on the move!
  • A 20 month old boy born with a heart defect (left artery totally closed) has another surgery as a “last ditch” to get some blood flowing. Not only are the doctors able to open his artery 2mm (needs 10-12), but-and here is the absolutely incredible, “miraculous” element-he goes home less than a week after surgery! There is no other explanation except God’s hand. Aslan was on the move!
  • A man who does not acknowledge the God of the Bible has health issues. Heart. Feet. Heart supposedly has bacteria on his valves but surgery is risky because of infection in his foot. A cath late last week shows his valves are clear with no bacteria; his foot is healing; and he has heart surgery to replace two valves this week. The whole scenario is nothing short of incredible. And even though his idea of God is warped, prayers have been said on his behalf. I’d like to believe it is so he can hear about and respond to the true God of the Bible. Aslan was on the move!

Those are recent examples. It is easy to write them off as “the doctors did this” or “modern medicine did that,” but I believe differently. I’d rather say it is-if I may borrow Paul’s words from Ephesians 2: “But God.” Man may have knowledge (ironically given to him by God) and may even acknowledge it is limited; man may say, “If it hadn’t been for the doctors;” but it goes much, much deeper. Man’s limited knowledge shows God’s limitless power.

“Father, skeptics can be cast aside. They will never accept nor understand Your unlimited-dare I say miraculous?-power. Limitless. Powerful. Able to astound. Help me to never take that power for granted, nor take your wonder working power for granted.”

#SayingThanks#1/10#StigmaHealed

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

We are in the season known as Thanksgiving. I tell you that just in case you were born under a rock yesterday. 🙂 In many ways, Thanksgiving is the forgotten season. It is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, both seasons which play very well into our consumeristic society. Candy and gifts. What more could you ask for? The way Thanksgiving is overlooked it makes you wonder if we won’t see Uncle Sam in a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny rabbits.

My sermon this Sunday is taken from Luke 17:11-19. It is the story of the 10 lepers who asked for healing. Jesus sent them on their way and as they went they were healed. Only one took the time to come back and say thanks. Leprosy was an ugly disease and to be cured from it was monumental. It boggles the mind to think only one individual stopped and turned around to say thanks.

I guess I shouldn’t be so critical though. How many times have I been blessed or seen God move and forget to say thanks? My simple challenge this week will be to remind the folks to say thanks. Not to take God’s goodness for granted.  Your prayers for Sunday would be appreciated.

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I’d like to challenge you to do the same. With Thanksgiving next week, it is a time for reflection. Be sure to set aside some time to do so. Jo, Tami and I will be heading to Ohio early Monday morning to visit her sister and then stop off for a night in Columbus to our grandson and his parents. 🙂 Thursday noon the church is serving a meal for the community. I will approve your comments but will be missing most of the week. Thanks for reading.

Satisfaction

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

There are a lot of things which bring us satisfaction. Some are not worth it; some are. Some are temporary; some are eternal. Some eat us alive; some give us life. As I see it, satisfaction can largely depend on your motives and expected results.

This past Thursday I was satisfied. In case you were born under a rock, Thursday was Thanksgiving Day. You know…eat till you drop. Eat till your buttons pop. Eat till you vow you will not eat again all day. Okay, at least until your next meal at another relative’s house or during the game (if you watch them).

Thursday for us was an absolutely beautiful day. The past few years it has been so frigid we had popsicles come inside after standing outside with a sign announcing our Thanksgiving Lunch for the community. But not this year! It turned out to be in the 50s and sunny.  It was a great day for a bike ride…I mean…a Thanksgiving lunch.  My day started early with my Quiet Time of Thanksgiving to the God who blesses me more than I deserve. Jo & I made our way to the local Lion’s Club where we hold the lunch. We started there when we didn’t have a building of our own and now that our building is sort of outside of town, we still use the LC for accessibility. We had a local lady who wanted to make pies for us so we arrived early to meet her. Sarah made 5 pies and some sugar cookies. Good thing I’m not a pumpkin, apple cinnamon, or pecan pie eater!  🙂  Eventually, others started arriving and preparations were underway.

I’m in charge of deliveries. I don’ t make them. I have men and women who do. So once people start coming I start humming. We have it down to a system now which works pretty well. And I had plenty of people who were more than eager to help in delivering the meals to whatever address I gave them, even some which were a 20-25 minute drive.

I know you don’t particularly want to hear those kinds of things. If you are like me you are saying, “Get with the program Bill! How many meals did you deliver? How many people did you serve in house?” I’m glad you and I think alike. Last year we delivered about 50 meals and served 15-20 in house. This year we blew the doors off both those numbers.

We delivered over 70 meals (not counting all the leftovers we took to the EMT’s).

We served over 30 meals to people who just wanted to come in and sit down to a Thanksgiving meal.

Now you can see why I am satisfied. Contented. Fulfilled. We helped a lot of people that day. We expect nothing back from them. But we are the ones who benefit by giving. I think Jesus was onto something when He said “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  🙂  I know, in spite of how tired I was after all the lifting and carting before and after, there was a sense of A-a-a-a-a-a-h inside.

Two things hit me:

  1. We are going to turn right around and do a Christmas breakfast from 7-9:00 on Christmas morning.
  2. Neither Jo nor I brought any turkey or dressing or anything home.  I didn’t need the turkey to induce a nap. It just happened.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day. I sure did.

Cisterns

Monday, November 19th, 2018

One of the most convicting passages of Scripture is the one found in Jeremiah 2, especially verse 13: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

In all honesty, I know Jeremiah could have written that about me in 2018.

To read more of this devotion please check out my other site, Be Transformed.

With Thanksgiving on the very close horizon, I am going to be taking a break for the rest of the week on posting a blog. The short week plus trying to cram multiple things into 3 days means a very wise use of my time. I will be back on Friday for my weekend post on my upcoming sermon series, Shedding Light on Christmas.

Thanks for being a reader of my ramblings. I appreciate each one of you. Take time this week to do what the old song tells us to do: “Count your many blessings name them one by one.” May the whole idea of gratitude fill your heart this week and always.

Plans

Friday, November 24th, 2017

My take on the old adage of “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is simple: “The best laid plans of men often go down the tubes.”  I can’t even begin to count (I only have 10 fingers and 10 toes) how many times I have made plans only to watch them fall apart {translated: blow apart}. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against making plans. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants a lot on a daily basis, but I also know there are times planning definitely needs to happen!

Being a nomad in ministry was never my plan. But it happened. We moved from Grayson, KY (college) to Akron, OH, to Kirkpatrick (Marion),OH, to Massillon, OH, to Fortville, IN, to Danville, OH, to Terre Haute, IN, to Sandusky, OH, to W. Market St in Spencer, IN, to our current address of 563 E. North St to ???? (Well, I hope nowhere else).  🙂 It seems like in a couple of them we no sooner put our stakes down than we were moving our tent again.

There are times God’s plan is clear as a bell, but often it is cloudy at best. Seeing mud would sometimes be clearer. But I do know this: no matter the circumstance, I know God ALWAYS has my best in mind. Always.  Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

My sermon Sunday concludes my short 3 sermon series on “I am Thankful” by being thankful for His Plan. I’m having a special guest Sunday, a dear friend. I don’t want to say “old friend” because he may take that wrong and since he is a Black Belt in TKD…I don’t think so. 🙂  He has some interesting stories to tell about God’s leading when he and his wife moved like a nomad as He opened doors in really amazing ways. Opening one of those doors gave me the privilege of meeting he and his family in 2007. Say a prayer for Ryan (techgeek) Sunday.  Thanks.

Patience

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Okay…before you think I’m going to go from being a friend to meddling 🙂  I want to put you at ease. I’m not going to rehash the age old adage of “patience is a virtue” and stuff like that.

Let me take it another direction.

Several words are used to describe or define what characteristic of God I am speaking about Sunday: longsuffering (the old King Jimmy word) or patience. We like to talk about God’s patience because it speaks of longevity. You know…I can keep doing and doing wrong and God is patient with me. People keep putting off salvation because they want to believe God is patient and even after death His patience will be experienced.

God is a god of perfect love, one with an incredible amount of patience. I should know: I’m typing this. I used to think God was this demanding judge, standing with a paddle in His hand. Psalm 103 paints a totally different picture of God.  That does not sound at all like a God who just can’t wait to get His hands around your throat! Nor does it sound like a God who can’t wait to throw darts at your picture. God’s love for His people knows no limits. And I am thankful for that!

But don’t be fooled. There will come a day when God’s patience will run out and a less favorite attribute will become a reality: His wrath. That is another subject for another day.

I would appreciate your prayers for this Sunday’s worship. Thanks.

Otherwise

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I used the following poem in my sermon yesterday. I think it says what needs to be said without a bunch of commentary. It was written by Jane Kenyon and was quoted in Alter Ego by Craig Groeschel (pages 151-152)

I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love.

At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day.

But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.

Kenyon wrote this poem in 1993, upon learning that her husband, Donald Hall, had cancer. Ironically, it was Kenyon, not Hall. who died a year later after a fierce and swift battle with leukemia. “Otherwise” came unexpectedly. But Jane Kenyon didn’t miss the blessings of God in each day. She learned the art of gratitude.

As I said, no commentary needed. Enjoy the blessing of today!!